By Peter Bodley – ABC Newspapers
Iraq War veteran and state legislator John Kriesel is Anoka County’s new veterans service officer.
The Anoka County Board approved a resolution hiring Kriesel at a meeting Tuesday.
Kriesel, currently a Republican state representative who had announced in March that he would not seek re-election, replaces Allison Lister as the county’s veterans service officer.
Lister had resigned effective when her successor could begin work.
According to the resolution approved by the board, Kriesel’s appointment was effective May 1.
The resolution approved by the board states that as a United States veteran and his service in the military, Kriesel is qualified to serve as the veterans service officer.
According to his biography presented by Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah at the board meeting, Kriesel was born in Hibbing and was raised in Vadnais Heights.
He enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard as an infantryman on his 17th birthday attending basic training during the summer between his junior and senior years in high school.
Kriesel served on a NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo in 2004 and less than two years later volunteered for a deployment in Iraq.
In December 2006, while on combat patrol with his squad, Kriesel suffered multiple internal injuries, two broken arms and the amputation of both his legs when a roadside bomb struck his Humvee, Sivarajah said.
He spent a year in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center recovering from his injuries, she said.
Kriesel retired from the military after 10 years and for his service, he has been awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, Purple Heart and Bronze Star among others, Sivarajah said.
According to Sivarajah, Kriesel most recently worked in marketing for the Minnesota National Guard as a civilian contractor and has been a frequent contributor on KFAN radio.
He was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2010, representing the Cottage Grove area where he lives with his wife Katie and their sons Elijah and Brody.
"We are very fortunate to have a true war hero to lead our veterans service office," Sivarajah said.
He will be working with veterans as well as helping families of veterans to deal with an array of problems and issues, she said.
County Commissioner Matt Look voted no on the resolution appointing Kriesel.
According to Look, the county board had an Anoka County option for the position.
He had a concern about longevity, given that Kriesel will have to commute from his home in Cottage Grove, Look said.
"I expressed that concern during the interview process," he said.
In addition, he wants the county board to institute a testing and evaluation process as part of its hiring consideration, which it has not done before and did not do in this case, Look said.
"Without that we have limited knowledge of who we are hiring," he said.
According to the Anoka County Veterans Service Office website, its mission is to provide veterans and their families with benefit counseling, referrals and assistance in a variety of programs.
The services it provides include helping veterans and their families with health care benefits, disability compensation, dental, optical, discharge papers, home loans, certificate of eligibility, property tax exclusion, burial benefits and survivors benefits.
Peter Bodley is managing editor of ABC Newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.